Category Archives: Culture Vulture

Our fine local arts establishment

WHO PAYS FOR THESE PONCE HOLES?!

Commentary on recent arts funding cuts – and who they really affect – from The BRISTOLIAN‘s Arts Correspondent…

Any of you readers ever venture into Bristol Old Vic? Watershed? Arnolfini? No? Didn’t think so.

Yet you, me and the rest of Bristol’s working class are expected to fund these artsy, fartsy PONCE HOLES every year through our Council Tax. Not a tenner here or a tenner there, but hundreds of thousands of pounds are given each year from our pockets to fund these unnecessary, unprofitable middle class cultural centres.

Meanwhile that smug prick the Mayor and his arse-licking councillors are more than happy to shut down libraries and day centres and cut back on essential services for Bristol’s pensioners and disabled.

According to them if the things we need don’t make a profit then they must be PRIVATISED OR CLOSED DOWN.

Working class culture is something that scares these arseholes. They don’t want large groups of Bristolians meeting up in case we

start sussing out what a con their capitalist system is and start doing something about it. So they are happy to shut down our pubs (for example, try and find a boozer in Knowle), raise ticket prices at the football, or unleash more riot cops in town of a weekend to drive us out.

They don’t want us going out talking to each other; they want us to work for them, fuck off home and slowly rot away watching moronic zombie TV. Then our rulers can sleep in peace with their profits, whilst the STREETS ARE EMPTY. Meanwhile we pay for fucking middle class arseholes called Rupert or Tristram to have a jolly good night out at the Old Vic, Wankershed or Analphoney. Well fuck that…it’s time to turn off the TV and go meet these privileged scum who we’re paying for.

If they won’t spread the wealth about equally, then maybe it’s about time we spread the violence about.

ARTS HOLES: CUTS CAUSE LUVVIE RAGE FOR FERGO’S ‘BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE’

Watershed's big swinging Dick Penny

Watershed’s big swinging Dick Penny

A rare outbreak of common sense last month from Labour’s Southville councillor SEAN ‘DADDY’S BOY’ BEYNON called for a ten per cent cut in the generous handouts for the city’s Key Arts Providers (KAP) as part of the city’s recent slash-and-burn budget.

Naturally there was an explosion of rage from the city’s wealthy and influential luvvie lobby at this small challenge to their large sense of entitlement.

The rage was mingled with disbelief at how anybody could question the overwhelming social value of stuff like the BRISTOL OLD VIC’s latest effort – a five hour, state-subsidised overblown theatrical production of an overwrought Victorian potboiler, Jane Eyre, organised by a Cambridge graduate with a terrible wardrobe!

Legendary local luvvie DICK ‘THE DISRUPTOR’ PENNY, soon waded in with some back-of-the- fag-packet calculations to “prove” that this kind of marginal nonsense is in fact an economic powerhouse for the city and that our luvvie legions are doing a selfless and remarkable job for the masses.

“Combined turnover of not for profit arts and museums organisations in the West of England last year was £55m,” huffed Penny, “and that’s a pretty major return on BCC investment.”

“And none of this takes into account the huge benefit to social cohesion, education, tourism and inward investment,” he puffed. Although he failed to produce a shred of evidence to back up his claims – and what the hell is “social cohesion” anyway?

What he also failed to explain is how this small cut, which would amount to just £100k, would have any effect whatsoever on an industry with a turnover of £55m. Are we meant to believe that a reduction of just one fifth of one per cent of its turnover is going to bring this industry to its knees?

Penny further neglected to point out that one organisation, WATERSHED, receives city council grants in excess of £300k in 2013, which, er … Pays his wages! He also neglected to point out that an increase of just one pound in cinema tickets for the very well-heeled ABC1 audience his venue attracts would make in the region of £100k a year!

So that’s what “social cohesion” is all about, then: the poorest directly subsidising elitist entertainment and the wages of the wealthiest.

ABANDON SHIP AT THE ARNOLFINI AS ‘PHONEY WAR CONTINUES!

Never more than one overpriced, underperforming art installation away from self-inflicted disaster, the elitist arty-farties of Harbourside’s ‘contemporary art’ gallery ARNOLFINI really have been surpassing themselves over the last year or so.

Not only did they manage to lose an entire ‘Executive Team’ in the space of a month, but their tenants – spread over three voluminous floors of their prestigious, cash-generating Bush House headquarters – all quit. If that wasn’t enough, they then uncovered a large black hole in the finances of around £360K – and promptly FIRED THEIR OWN AUDITORS, Grant Thornton!

Meanwhile, a deranged “recovery plan” to convert the top three floors of the Bush House bunker – at public expense! – into an “art hotel” predictably flopped.

At the height of last autumn’s crisis, the place had to be run by a sub-committee of posh twits from the Analphoney board of trustees. That was because centre director TOM TREVOR was frogmarched off the premises in October so that he could, er, “pursue a number of international curatorial projects”! Presumably he didn’t have a family to “spend more time with”, then?

Trevor was escorted out the door right after the other half of the “executive team”, finance chief and our old friend BRENDA ‘WISE MONKEY’ MCLENNAN, was herself ‘disappeared’ from the organisation without explanation last August.

Brenda, you may recall, is currently vice-chair of Bristol City Council’s financial watchdog, the Audit Committee. So despite an organisation apparently sinking faster than the Titanic on her watch, she got a job overseeing sound financial practice at the council! (But then again, between 2009-2013 she notched up a not-to-be-sniffed-at £1,958.53 in expenses from the council, which suggests a certain amount of flair…)

You may recall that Brenda – she of the £800k Clifton Wood mansion – was a candidate at the last election for George Ferguson’s INDYREDPANTS PARTY, promising that she was going “to shake things up” at the Council House. Well, she’s certainly managed to shake things up at the ‘Phoney!

Other victims of the mass clear out include colourfully-named former chair LOVEDAY SHEWELL. She quietly left after six years in the post in July 2012. Although oddly, despite the UK’s arty-fartie-bore-in-chief Sir Nicolas Serota describing the ‘Phoney as “one of a handful of the most significant cultural centres in Europe,” Ms Shewell has mysteriously left her time with the gallery off her extensive CV. Why could that be?

Meanwhile, that renowned patron of the arts, business genius and financial whiz – MAYOR FERGO himself – hastily quit his post on the board of trustees in December 2012.

Demonstrating, yet again, that George’s instinct for survival outstrips his business acumen by some way.

ANYONE FOR MONKEY TENNIS? FERGO GOES ALL MARIE ANTOINETTE-MEETS-ALAN PARTRIDGE ON THE RADIO

Another fine example of exceptional diplomatic skills from our SOFT-HANDED MAYOR, who was born with a silver spoon and has never done a hard day’s graft done in his entire over-privileged life.

During one of his regular morning appearances on Radio Bristol’s Alan Partridge and Friends show (surely you mean the hard-hitting Steve Le Fevre at Breakfast show? – Ed.), Fergo was asked about his madcap plans to make an eighth of his workforce redundant seemingly at random.

“Well,” blustered the Mayor, unable to explain coherently what he’s doing or to understand the effect it may have on the city’s public services, “the council isn’t an employment charity.”

No doubt this vote of mayoral confidence in his hardworking staff and his view on the workings of the city’s public services will go down a storm with a demoralised workforce.

Because it’s always nice to be told by some wealthy, idle tosser that you’re just sat on your backside doing sweet F.A. for a living isn’t it?

INDYREDPANTS’ UNWISE MONKEY’S HORROR NO-SHOW

Word reaches us that BRENDA ‘WISE MONKEY’ MCLENNAN is no longer the Finance boss at the Arnolfini arts centre by the Floating Harbour. Sources there have been keen to distance themselves from her for some reason, and have been at pains to emphasise that they parted ways in October. Why could that be?

Whilst not boasting the same name recognition as His Redtrouserness, you may remember McLennan from her unsuccessful bid for a council seat back in May, when she ran as the public-spirited, politically independent candidate in Clifton for the INDYREDPANTS PARTY, that ragbag of gormless cheerleaders for King George.

What you might not know is that this ‘outsider’ to Bristol’s local politics is also now the Deputy Chair of the City Council’s Audit Committee – which is responsible for ensuring sound management of our money and clamping down on fraud and corruption within BCC. If nothing else, this unusual appointment of one of the Mayor’s keenest public supporters brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘politically independent’.

Certainly Ms McLennan (who has racked up thousands of pounds in expenses) has wasted no time in showing the kind of gumption needed to “shake things up” at Shitty Hall by, err… Not turning up for the most important Audit Committee meeting of year!

That’s right, for reasons unknown, Ms Mclennan – one of only two people providing allegedly independent oversight of council finances – failed to show at the Committee meeting in September, where the council’s audited accounts for the 2012-13 were agreed and signed off (without a hitch, natch).

Also on the agenda at the meeting was the report from the council’s Internal Audit Department cataloguing the series of gross financial failures across the organisation. These included theft, wholesale non-compliance with procurement regulations, dodgy management of cash accounts and – even – a very special mention for The BRISTOLIAN’s bête noire, Facilities Service Manager Tony ‘Toerag’ Harvey’s bent Markets Service!

So nothing there that would in any way interest an independent election candidate who wants to “shake things up” at Bristol City Council then!

THE OFFICIAL GARY HOPKINS MEAT RAFFLE PORTRAIT COMPETITION PRIZE GIVING EXTRAVANGANZA SCANDAL SHOCKER – PICTURES!

Gary Hopkins Meat Raffle competition winner @guriben presented with his prize and official certificate by BRISTOLIAN intern Jooohn Ag Jnr

The Gary Hopkins Portrait Meat Raffle 2013 competition winner @guriben presented with his pork prize and official certificate by The BRISTOLIAN’s spokespirate Jooohn Ag

That Gary Hopkins Meat Raffle prize certificate in full

That Gary Hopkins Meat Raffle prize certificate in full

It was with great pleasure that The BRISTOLIAN‘s spokespirate Jooohn Ag was today able to present the winner of the inaugural Gary Hopkins Portrait Meat Raffle competition, local internet personality @guriben, with his prize: a bag of meat to the value of £5, plus a certificate.

At a glittering ceremony hosted at the Bristol home of international piracy, the Llandoger Trow on King Street, @guriben received three tubes of what can only be described as rather grey-looking ‘sausage meat’ from one of south Bristol’s finest budget butcher’s.

Sadly the competition’s muse, Councillor Hopkins, was unable to attend himself due to a last-minute airport run.

Said the talented artist, whose exposure through The BRISTOLIAN has now brought him commissions:

I really wasn’t expected a real meat prize!

Well, the prize is definitely real, but we make no claims as to whether it is ‘meat’ or not…

BRISTOL’S OFFICIAL GARY HOPKINS PORTRAIT ARTIST IS… @GURIBEN!

‘Meat Zeppelin’, Councillor Gary Hopkins, watercolours, 2013, @guriben

‘Meat Zeppelin’, Councillor Gary Hopkins, watercolours, 2013, @guriben

After a week of hard voting, Bristol has spoken – @guriben wins the Official Gary Hopkins Portrait Meat Raffle Competition with his marvellous painting entitled ‘Meat Zeppelin’.

A special presentation of a £5 barrel bag of pork (painter’s preferred meat) will be made to the victorious artist sometime in the near future, hopefully with photographs and everything…

Congratulations to @guriben, and to all the other entrants – because in a way, we’re all winners (except Cllr Hopkins, that is).

VOTE EARLY & VOTE OFTEN! THE OFFICIAL BRISTOLIAN GARY HOPKINS PORTRAIT MEAT RAFFLE COMPETITION IS *ON*!!!

[polldaddy poll=7465155]

Right, polling is now open – and will remain open until 5pm, Monday 4 November 2013 – so now is the time to choose the portrait which you think best encapsulates Bristol City Council’s GARY HOPKINS, Lib Dem councillor for Knowle.

There’s a £5 bag of meat (or meat substitute) at stake for the artists, so please poll responsibly…